Libertarianism

Rand Paul vs. David Letterman

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Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, was on David Letterman last night, talking about wearing jeans on TV, being mentored by Al Franken, the difference between Tea Party and the GOP, the dangers of government debt, shrinking the public sector and growing the private sector, whether tax cuts hurt the middle class, and whether we can solve our public problems by taxing the rich.

Thomas Woods on where Sen. Paul is right and the talk show host and his audience are wrong. Some examples:

Rand correctly noted that the top 1% of income tax earners pay one-third of all the income taxes, with the top 50% paying 96%.  So the "rich" are already paying plenty.  Letterman's response? There must be something wrong with those numbers, he said to applause from the audience.  So the audience is in effect saying, "We also refuse to believe those numbers!"  But those numbers are correct….

Rand explains, again correctly, that spending more money on education has not improved educational outcomes.  Letterman's response?  Well, education is important, so we've got to try something—how about spending more money?  But by the time of George W. Bush's term, per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, had already doubled since LBJ….

Letterman wonders why we can't just loot the "rich" some more.  Well, if we'd like to make still more firms leave the U.S., that'd be a good start.  Want to strangle the growth on which everyone's welfare depends?  By all means pursue this strategy….

Rand points out, correctly, that the compensation package for Wisconsin teachers is extremely attractive, amounting to over $80K annually.  Letterman, to general applause, says that figure should be doubled.  Isn't education important?  This is the level of reasoning people appear comfortable with.  On Big Rock Candy Mountain there's a giant pile of cash overlooked by the governor and the rest of us. Don't worry that the pension systems are going to bankrupt the states—that's nothing a doubling of teacher salaries won't solve.

Here's the video:

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324 responses to “Rand Paul vs. David Letterman

  1. Letterman’s reasoning IS correct because you people are an inexaustable resource of tax revenue.

    No contest, Letterman is our man, Paul is an outsider on his way to being marginalized bu us at the government.

    http://youareproperty.blogspot…..attle.html

  2. Letterman’s reasoning IS correct because you people are an inexaustable resource of tax revenue.

    No contest, Letterman is our man, Paul is an outsider on his way to being marginalized bu us at the government.

    http://youareproperty.blogspot…..attle.html

    1. I’m a talentless douchebag that make tens of millions a year doing a crappy, humorless tv show.

      So of course I think guys like me should pay more taxes (just not me)and that anyone that does actual work is underpaid.

      1. You should donate your entire paycheck to the federal government

        1. He won’t, he’s not that patriotic.

    2. Your blog is amazing, BTW. It’s on my iGoogle homepage.

    3. I don’t believe what I just saw! Letterman says himself he’s stupid, and he’s right. Rand Paul is one of those special people that comes along every once in a while.

  3. I can’t stomach any late night talk shows. Conan O’Brian’s seems to be the only one without huge liberal overtones, but I can’t watch the show because the man isn’t funny.

    1. What about Craig Ferguson?

      1. Mouth organ or awkward pause?

    2. What about Craig Ferguson?

      1. What about him?

    3. Leno is on the record as a Republican.

      1. Last time I checked….well….he just wasn’t funny.

        1. Agreed. I was speaking to the comment above which stated that the only late night talk show without a huge liberal agenda was Conan.

          1. I don’t want to put words in TNCM’s mouth, but I think maybe he meant funny & without huge liberal overtones.

      2. Right. Too bad Leno is as funny as disembowelment. Conan isn’t so bad, though. Better than listening to this mildly funny drivel from Letterman. Makes me ashamed to be a Hoosier.

  4. So Obama/Letterman oh12 then?

  5. I see where Matt Welch gets his inspiration

  6. Does anyone under 50 even watch late night talk shows anymore? I’ve tuned in to the Tonight Show exactly twice since attaining majority. Once for a Ron Paul appearance, once for Conan’s half of his monologue catfight with Leno, which was turned off after 5 minutes due to uncomfortable unfunniness.

    1. Depends on how late your night is.

      Colbert and the Daily Show have relatively young audiences & so does more tabloid-ly shows like Chelsea Lately.

      1. Daily Show watchers are bunch of stupid cows.

  7. Is this another Atlas Shrugged clip?
    Those AS villains are so unrealistic.

  8. “I think he’s wrong about some of these things, I just can’t tell you why.”

    Keep the faith, brother!

    1. Quite the admission on Letterman’s part. I thought Paul did a good job in prompting that reply.

    2. Props to Letterman for being honest.

      Ignorant, yes, but honest.

      1. Paul: “That global warming theory must be wrong. I can’t tell you why, but it just must be.”

        Letterman: “That’s an acceptable, intelligent argument.”

        1. I’m pretty sure Paul could tell you exactly why the theory that “government must take over industry to try to prevent alleged runaway global warming that ‘scientists’ whose funding and ability to get tenure is premised on them towing the lion for AGW say is happening, and ignore that record cold weather” is not a good theory on many, many counts.

          But, nice threadjack attempt.

          1. You missed my point. I, too, am sure that Paul could give many intelligent arguments about global warming.

            My point is that all Letterman did in response to anything Paul said was “that must be wrong.” If Paul said something like that to Letterman, I doubt Letterman would have been so forgiving as Paul was to him.

            That’s hardly a threadjack.

            1. Sorry, my sarcasm radar was on the fritz. Well said.

              1. Thanks. My original comment wasn’t really clear about what I was driving at.

    1. Letterman is proud to have been a C- student at Ball State.

      1. I would just like to point out that I was first exposed to free market economics at Ball State University where I got my BA in Econ…

        1. Gonna guess you did a little better than a C- average.

  9. Does anyone think that Letterman has grown to accustomed to making $50 million a year, so he doesn’t realize that $80,000 annually is also a lot of money?

    1. Bingo! Letterman thinks $80,000/yr = poverty wages.

      1. This is the same reason you get so many brainless lefties in Hollywood. When you’re 25 and making millions for a few week’s worth of work a year, you are almost inescapably going to develop a very skewed sense of what it takes for most people to earn their living.

        1. Yeah, but don’t you still have your peeps from when you were a struggling actor? Maybe one that is kind of scruffy, hangs out on your couch, and wears his cap backwards. One who was a better actor than you but left it all behind because he fell in love with his small town sweetheart. One who is gay.

        2. It reminds me of Nelson Rockefeller’s reference to the average American making $100,000 a year. To him that was probably a rounding error.

        3. Especially when you consider the number of them that end up bankrupt. Ditto for athletes. “If I cant make it on $2M annually, how can anyone live on $80k?”

          1. The letters “T.O” spring to mind

        4. Didn’t Charlie Sheen blow half a million on cars for hookers? IIRC, he bought one for his gf too, but it was the cheapest car he bought.

          On hookers? C’mon, Charlie.

        5. “When you’re 25 and making millions for a few week’s worth of work a year”

          Playing charades, getting interviewed and making appearances might get tedious, especially when all you’d rather be doing is partying or practicing yoga, but can it really be considered “work”?

      2. makes $50 mil and he lives in NYC, so 80K is poverty to him.

    2. It is for people in the private sector, but for the noblest among us, unionized public school teachers, it’s not nearly as much as they would get in an enlightened and just society.

    3. I also wonder if he thinks doubling teacher salaries wouldn’t put a lot of the current crop of teachers out of work.

      1. No, because in Dave’s world, money grows on trees and there are an infinite number of trees.

    4. In NYC (where he now lives) it wouldn’t be all that much money. But in WI, it’s a pretty nice wage (especially since all you need is a “degree” in Education).

  10. He’s wrong about one thing: “public sector should not do some things because private sector does it better”. No. Public sector should not do things because it is not granted the power by the Constitution.

    1. Have you read any state constitutions? There’s hardly any power the public sector doesn’t have at the state level.

  11. “Don’t worry that the pension systems are going to bankrupt the states — that’s nothing a doubling of teacher salaries won’t solve.”

    The big picture is that the money government spends on stuff?

    Doesn’t come from anywhere.

    And wherever the government’s money does come from? Spending on whatever has no consequences in the real economy.

    None.

    Money the government spends is like magic! It comes from nowhere; it makes people rich, and it doesn’t cost a thing.

    1. Don’t forget the multiplier impact. Since every dollar generates 5 bucks of economic activity and we tax at the fed level roughly at 20% of it all comes back – a virtuous loop of goodness and happiness and hugs. Only evil people and Charles Manson’s blood relatives are against hugs.

      1. To a point, evil people and Charles Manson’s blood relatives are only against hugs because they haven’t been given enough. There are two kinds of people: those who like hugs and those who need hugs.

  12. That whole thing had an Andy Kauffman-like feel to it. It seemed like he was mocking his ignorant audience and they just didn’t get the joke.

    Or maybe not. Maybe I see stupidity like that and my brain just scrambles for an explanation.

    1. I think you’re right. What else could explain the last line, for instance?

      And as to the applause, remember that they also applauded the statement that he wasn’t that funny.

    2. This may be the best explanation.

      Although, I will point out that working class Americans pay a large portion of their salary in Social Security and Medicare taxes. These are not considered income tax, even though younger Americans are quite aware we won’t be getting any of that back.

      Counting Social Security, Medicare, property tax (direct or indirect), state income tax and sales taxes, and other miscellany, working class Americans pay around 40-50% of their income in taxes.

      1. Glad you are educating the masses to the true cost of government and government-supplied services such as entitlements. The problem is that so many taxes are hidden from view, the largest of which is the corporate income tax which we, their customers, as their only source of income, wind up paying. Tax and entitlement reforms must go hand in hand so we can achieve the “transparency” which reveals this important fact.

        1. The ignorant “masses” read People magazine instead of Reason or other educational news sources. Oh, and they’re also mostly brainless twits who couldn’t grasp libertarian philosophy anyhow. That’s why there is a President Obama, Senator Franken, etc.

    3. Thats what I tought too.Leterman appeared to be speaking tongue-n-cheek, or maybe I just cant imagine anyone being that clueless. Sounded like he said ‘we’ when refering to the republican party at the begining.

      All and all a great interview I dunno wtf anyone is complaining about. Letterman asked a multitude of question near and dear to our hearts, and gave Paul plenty of time to answer and explain. Made the whole repulican party look downright reasonable.

    4. Nah, I got the impression that Letterman really is that ignorant about stuff outside the sphere of knowledge he is brilliant at (“making a buttload of money despite being unfunny on a late night show”).

  13. Why did he wear jeans? Did he think the camera only shot from the waist up?

    1. The jeans were ok-the shoes sucked

    2. What he really needed was a leather jacket.

    3. I think the jeans were a calculated move to get votes from people who wear jeans a lot and rarely vote for Republicans, or at least get those people to listen to thoughts that they perhaps have never heard articulated before.

      Rand Paul is really smart, and those jeans didn’t come across as a random sartorial choice.

      1. The jacket, shirt and neat tie combined with the jeans made the latter acceptable but dated. His wife was correct-he was 80s retro. The shoes looked like he stole them off a homeless person.

        ProL, I think it was a strategic move and his jokes were pre-planned too. He came off as trying too hard, and should go with his instinct, not advice.

        1. I thought the jeans came off as too calculatedly homey and jes’ plain folksy — I assume a significant number of his constituents dress like that for him to dress so shabbily, in attempt to get them to identify with him — but everything he said was sharp and smart and on point, and carefully avoided the minefields Letterman tried to lead him into. Much better speaker than his dad.

          I was impressed by what he said.

          1. I liked him for this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roAdK6VkY3E
            I can’t find the edited version, and it’s on my own site!

            1. weird, that wasn’t the fight but it was during a debate, and IIRC his morals were questioned

        2. He came off as trying too hard, and should go with his instinct, not advice.

          Television Rule #1: NEVER go with your instinct; the viewer EXPECTS you to be rehearsed and is uncomfortable with natural conversation – they will hate you for it.

    4. RP is Senator from Kentucky. The jeans were authentic copies of original Levis — made out of HEMP denim — which RP wore in solidarity with the many hemp farmers in his constituency.

      I really don’t know if the above is true, but I’d like it to be.

      1. I think it is true
        http://www.dashhemp.com/category-s/84.htm
        It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, from competing in the global industrial hemp market,? said Representative Ron Paul

    5. At the very least, he pulled off jeans better than Obama does.

  14. I thought Rand Paul was great. I hadn’t seen him speak until now, I was pretty impressed.

  15. Letterman – what a twat.

  16. Letterman audiences are told to clap and laugh hysterically at everything Dave says and they have people urging them on during the taping. The fact that his “jokes” could barely get any laughs and people were half-heartedly clapping at his comments tells me the audience probably agreed more with Rand. Dave came off like a moron in this clip and everyone knows it. Dave didn’t carry the liberal-progressive water well at all last night.

    1. Anyone crazy enough to wait in line for 3 hours in the cold for tickets to his show is going to laugh at his terrible jokes.

      1. You SugarFreed the link, dude.

        1. Shhh, that’s part of the zen-ness. Aum.

          1. You are wise beyond your years, grasshopper.

            No, you may not have the pebble.

    2. are you sure that wasn’t a laugh-track?

    3. He never does. Even Bill O’Reilly managed to make him look ignorant.

  17. Thank God for Rand Paul.

    1. Preach it my brother!

  18. Conan O’Brian’s seems to be the only one without huge liberal overtones, but I can’t watch the show because the man isn’t funny.

    His show was the funniest talk show ever, about fifteen years ago. Then it suddenly went to hell so fast it was frightening. He’s truly Letterman’s heir.

    People I know who still watch the late night shows tend to disdain Craig Ferguson for not being “political,” which I take to mean almost none of his material is about how Palin’s all ‘tarded and poor people are fat. But I’ve never seen his show, so maybe only 90% of his jokes are about that, and that makes him suspect.

    1. ?, you’re missing out. Craigy Ferg almost never discusses politics, nor does rely on class warfare like Letterman. He’s got sort of an anti-talkshow attitude in his approach. I think he’s brilliant. Definitely the only talk show worth watching. He’s prone to adolescent penis jokes, but it’s not as simplistic as it may seem at first glance; it’s more like Apatow comedy in that it mocks the inanity of puerile humor. As I often put it: What he said isn’t funny; what’s funny is the fact that he said it.

      P.S. Letterman’s a narcissistic, sexist, prick. He ignores his guests and/or mocks them…unless they are superstars (like DeNiro or Spielberg-level) or hot young chicks, in which case he rubs his erection in their faces on national television.

      1. My wife idolized him until about 15 years ago when she got a chance to be in the audience. She said he is really a dick and you can see his overbearing behavior with his staff during the commercial breaks.

      2. I also think Ferguson’s blatantly pro-American, “I’m a refugee from Europe” take is refreshing.

  19. A couple of weeks ago, I’d lambaste Letterman for being a total idiot, but I’ve been on the STL Post-Dispatch website for that amount of time and all I can say is, “holy fuck.”

    There are people out there that really, truly and deeply believe that bullshit. They think there’s just an unending supply of money that’s being withheld from The Righteous and all it takes is a lot of street theater and voting for the right party to dislodge it from those hoarding it.

    If these people at the P-D and who clapped for Letterman’s ignorance are anything close to a majority, we are completely and totally hosed. I mean as in turn out the fucking lights hosed.

    1. I keep telling people on here that compared to the average liberal, Tony is enlightened. They really are that stupid.

      1. I refuse to believe that the average liberal is more ignorant than Tony. That cannot possibly be true.

        1. I’m here to tell you that Tony is Adam Fucking Smith next to these gibbering lunatics.

          1. Oh dear God…

        2. Believe it brother. I work in academia and Tony IS Adam Smith compared to 99.9 per cent of my colleagues. Although He gets his ass handed to him on a regualr basis, Tony will at least attempt to engage. The crowd I work with walks away if you even try to challenge its proscribed mindset.

        3. Dude. Next to my average classmate in college Tony’s an anarchist.

        4. I refuse to believe that the average liberal is more ignorant than Tony. That cannot possibly be true.

          If that was a sly parody of what Letterman said about ‘those facts can’t be true because they don’t fit my belief system’

          then

          * slow clap *

          if you actually think Tony is at or below the median of intelligence of liberals, you haven’t met enough liberals to grasp their ignorance about economics.

          1. Uhhhh…sure, that’s exactly what I was going for. Glad someone caught on.

            But to be honest, I don’t engage people in politics that much in real life, so I wouldn’t know. I’m still amazed that Tony is considered intelligent when compared to other liberals. And I’m also very, very depressed.

            1. Tony is very bright. He can come across as stupid because he has entirely different starting assumptions about the goodness of government, which, when followed to their logical conclusion, leads to some profoundly stupid-sounding conclusions to those of us not sharing those assumptions.

              1. “Tony is very bright”

                “Clever”, I’ll buy. “Bright” as in “intelligent”? Nope.

                1. Oh you can be “bright” and still be a gun-wielding class warfare monster. Dare I say HitlerStalinMao?

                  Start Drinking.

    2. The Post Dispatch is an insult to the name of Pulitzer. But… it wraps the fish and the BS equally well.

      I’m in STL too. Email me, Jeffersonian, I’d like to start a dialogue.

      tbeebe6535@yahoo.com

  20. I think Paul should have told Letterman to put his money where his mouth is. Letterman has millions … since he thinks state “education” (a misnomer if there ever is one) needs to have more money thrown at it, then he should have no hesitancy about opening his checkbook on the spot and doubling some teachers’ salaries out of his own pocket … or does he really just advocate stealing it from other people less wealthy than himself?

    And his final argument before the close of the segment, “I think you’re wrong, I just can’t tell you why” … well, maybe Dave should do some homework before he declares Paul is wrong. What an idiot.

    1. iirc, he had the exact same response to bill oreilly. i’m not saying rand = oreilly. i am saying that letterman’s stock response to stuff he doesn’t want to be true is the above response. fwiw, it’s not like letterman doesn’t have plenty of people behind the scenes who could spend a few seconds with the google ™ and let letterman know (at least during a commercial break, if not teleprompter) that rand is speaking the truth

    2. well, maybe Dave should do some homework before

      Letterman’s an idiot, but he’s not stupid enough to kill his cash cow by turning into Dick Cavett.

  21. What’s that you say, Dave? You want to make a gift to the Federal Government? Why didn’t you say so in the first place? Let go of those millions. It’s for the kids.

    Gifts to the United States Government

    Mail those checks and money orders to:

    Gifts to the United States
    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Credit Accounting Branch
    3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

    Hurry up and do your patriotic duty, Dave.

    1. Wow. They have an actual web site for that.

      That’s…I…uh…

      Wow.

      I wonder how much they get.

      1. IIRC, they get a few million a year.

        Not much, but a pretty good ROI for maintaining that website.

        1. Toss up some google-ads, sell some t-shirts and mugs….damn, this could be the secret to ending the deficit without cutting spending!

        2. Wow…that’s almost enough money to actually support the staggering bureacracy erected to manage it.

    2. Bookmarked. URL and mailing address memorized.

  22. Actually, they’re both cute.. hope to see them both on stage..

  23. I don’t think he’s an idiot so much as plain uninformed, which he admitted to several times. A guy like Letterman has been removed from anything close to a “conventional lifestyle” for several decades now. Add the fact that he’s old, and it becomes hard to see where his biases would ever get challenged: outside this sort of interview, of course.

    If anything, he came off as an avatar of the broader public’s utter confusion regarding libertarian ideas — which is either funny or frightening, but likely true. When you spend too much time in your own subculture, it’s easy to forget that many people find this shit completely crazy, and will struggle to make it compatible with their own reading of the world.

    I applaud Rand Paul for being patient and sincerely trying to articulate what are still — personal opinions aside — very unconventional arguments.

    What did you believe in before libertarianism?

      1. Aqua Buddha.

      2. We are sorry to have let you down.

          1. You haven’t said “retard” in this thread. Are you feeling okay?

            1. Really, that was a one time slip-I may have a temper

              1. rather|2.26.11 @ 5:19AM|#

                Really, that was a one time slip-I may have a temper

                Really, that was a one time slip-I may have a temper

                Fixed.

              2. You were probably PMS.

                Yes, that is a test.

                1. As my punishment, I will seek attrition by saying a novena for Saint Lorena Bobbit

        1. “I put my faith in the people, but the people let me down. So I turned the other way and I carry on, anyhow.”

    1. I went from thinking the Republicans were right about everything in middle school (early 2000s) to seeing Bush was evil and thinking the Democrats were right about everything (up to about 2005) and then somehow getting linked to the LP.org platform and “seeing the light” so to speak.

      1. Ha, me too. Well, except for the Democrats. I always knew they sucked. I stopped being a Republican when the bailouts passed. That was a real eye opener.

        1. Er, which party controlled Congress when the bailouts passed again?

          1. See: Veto, or the lack thereof.

    2. I was a confused liberal.

    3. I was a Green during the early Bush years. There’s hope for the intelligent ones who truly believe long-term solutions to poverty based in real world economics is preferable to kneejerk support of failing government programs – and who can be taught the strong correlation between centralization of government power with centralization of economic power.

      1. Yes, the next Left will be libertarian.

    4. I was a precinct captain for McGovern in 1972. Most of the other party workers backed also backed Prop 20 (Calif Coastal Comm). I was so convinced that Prop 20 was a bad idea, it just pushed me over to libertarian.

  24. “[Teachers] should make twice that.”

    Why not four times that? Why not ten?

    “By the way, if we’re going throw money at something, what about education? For God’s sake, let’s see if it improves, somehow.”

    Point = missed.

    The terrible part is, even though Letterman feels Paul’s arguments are wrong, he knows Paul’s arguments are right.

    1. “[Teachers] should make twice that.”

      Why not four times that? Why not ten?

      Why not half that?

      1. Why not nothing?

        It’s for the kids, after all.

    2. Paraphraseth kooky Ayn:

      “A feeling is not an argument.”

  25. I remember one other time when I felt like reaching through the TV set and slapping Letterman upside the head. Many years ago, he had Harold Edgerton on his show, and it was obvious that he had no idea that he was speaking to one of the greatest inventors of all time.

    -jcr

  26. Paul is correct about the distribution of the federal income tax.

    But if you look at all federal taxes, including payroll tax, the distribution is much less heavily weighted towards upper income levels, and I think still less if you include state taxes.

    Any such conclusion is complicated by the ambiguity of who really pays taxes. Are property taxes paid by owners or by tenants in their rent? Are corporation taxes paid by stockholders, employees, or customers? But I think it’s clear that looking only at the federal income tax greatly exaggerates how progressive the overall tax system is.

    1. Property taxes are paid by property owners, generally with revenue collected from tenants. Corporate taxes are paid by corporations with revenues collected from customers.

      Super fucking ambiguous.

      1. “Property taxes are paid by … .”

        That tells you who hands over the money. It doesn’t tell you who ultimately pays the tax. To take the most obvious example, corporations can’t ultimately pay the tax because corporations are not real people–they don’t have consumption they can reduce or leisure they can convert into income.

        Do you think that when corporations pay taxes, somehow no human being has to bear the cost?

        Similarly for other taxes. Payroll taxes are nominally divided between employer and employee, but that division is pure window dressing. The total tax is a tax on the transaction between employer and employee. It doesn’t matter whether the government takes a dollar out of the payment before or after the money is handed over to the employee–in either case the effect is to make wage received a dollar less than wage paid.

        1. David,

          You touch on something I’ve been wrestling with for some time; is there a way to quantify how much time the average denizen of the U.S. loses to taxation?

          Specifically, people work and produce goods or perform services. They do this at a cost – generally foregoing other more pleasurable activities – in order to reap the benefits of the stuff they make/the stuff people trade for their work product.

          The effect of taxing transactions is to essentially reduce the benefit of those transactions.

          So, the worker works more hours to get the same benefit, while the capitalist employing him hires fewer workers and foregoes marginal production.

          Now for a simple economy involving 5 types of goods with nor intermediate stages of production, it might be possible to quantify this simply.

          But in a complex economy, with a mixture of high order and low order capital goods being produced, how does one analyze the losses caused by taxation?

          You’re a professional economist – how would you approach the question?

          1. And then there’s the deadweight losses incurred by taxes. Cato actually did a really great podcast on how much taxes (including deadweight loss) really decrease GDP. The podcast was late last year…

          2. Why wouldn’t the simplest answer to your question be: total taxes collected from all sources / total population = taxes per person ?

            Feel free to control for age, citizenship or any number of other factors.

            1. Because taxes also have a deadweight loss.

        2. You should have read more than the first five words of my post. If you had, you would have seen that I mentioned the people who the landowners/corporations pass their expenses (in this case taxes) on to.

          Consumers ultimately pay corporate taxes in the same way that they ultimately pay corporate rents, invoices, and payrolls. Saying “the company paid the bill” is a useful distinction to have. But it is also good (for the company, the government and various political advocates) to keep in mind where the money for that check ultimately came from.

          1. I read your whole post.

            The fact that the property owner gets his revenue from tenants doesn’t answer the question. It doesn’t tell us whether the result of the tax is that revenue goes up by the amount of tax, revenue stays the same and the tax reduces the owner’s income, or something between those two.

            Similarly for corporation tax. “Consumers ultimately pay” isn’t true if the result of the tax is to reduce the return on the stockholders’ capital or the wages of corporate employees. Economic theory doesn’t tell us how the actual burden is divided–that depends on details of the various supply and demand curves.

            1. David, do you mean that the shares of the tax burdens for which the consumers are responsible are dependent on the elascticities of supply and demand? I’m reaching back to Micro here…

              1. I mean that the division of the tax burden depends on elasticities of supply and demand.

                Consider the payroll tax. If the supply of labor is perfectly inelastic, wages drop by the “employer’s share” of the payroll tax and employees pay the whole tax. If the supply of labor is perfectly elastic, wages go up by the employee’s share and employers pay the whole tax. Similarly for elasticity of demand for labor.

                For less extreme cases, the division of the tax burden depends on relative elasticities.

                Of course, that isn’t the whole story. If the employers bear the whole burden the increases their cost of labor, which increases the price of their goods. So some of the burden ends up on the consumers.

                1. One odd effect of this is that since income elasticities tend to rise with income:
                  1. Income taxes on the rich don’t actually get paid by the rich.
                  2. Countries with the most regressive tax policy (e.g.: Scandinavian countries) can extract a much higher percent of their GDP as taxes, and have a much further right peak on their Laffer curves than countries with very progressive tax policies (e.g.: the US).

    2. And, dude, seriously, no listen to me, when you think about it, it’s really just molecules moving other molecules around, man.

      1. No way, man! It is waves of energy colliding with and strengthening or canceling other waves of energy. “Solid” matter isn’t even solid, man!

    3. Yes, that struck me too.

      The majority of wage earners pay more in payroll taxes (15% from the first dollar earned) than federal income taxes (0%-35%, after deductions).

      Payroll taxes are highly regressive — effectively 18 year olds writing checks to millionaires. But since they supposedly go into a pot of money that their payers get to dip their hands back into later in life, they’re seen as separate from income tax, which is lost forever. But receipts are fungible, and the government had been borrowing general funds from that regressive stream of money before and now will be paying for the regressive benefits out of general funds in the future.

      Tax is tax.

      1. “Payroll taxes are highly regressive…”

        There is no “payroll tax” — there is a redistribution system partially funded by a payroll tax.

        Social Security is obscenely progressive income redistribution: If two workers have the exact same life cycle, but one of whom pays twice as much FICA tax over his lifetime than the other, then the former will receive far less than twice as much in benefits. This formula swamps the earnings cap (which recall, increases every year anyway).

        1. Wrong. There is a payroll tax which goes into general funds. Then there is a welfare system for old people paid out of general funds. Dispite both having the same name attached to them, they are unconnected.

        2. It’s true that the tax and payout formula of Social Security is progressive. On the other hand, benefit received depends very much on how long you get to collect for, and life expectancy increases with income. I don’t know what the net effect is, and I doubt you do.

          1. David Friedman|2.26.11 @ 1:08PM|#
            “It’s true that the tax and payout formula of Social Security is progressive. On the other hand, benefit received depends very much on how long you get to collect for, and life expectancy increases with income. I don’t know what the net effect is, and I doubt you do.”

            OK, I’m beginning to believe this is not a sock, but the David who is the son of Milton. And willing to ‘go to school’ as a result.

            1. David frequently comments on libertarian economics blogs.

          2. Wrt social security:
            “The benefit formula is set up to favor lower-income workers. For example, in 2004, someone with average monthly earnings of $624 received a benefit that replaced 90 percent of earnings. Someone whose average monthly earnings were $3,760 received a benefit that replaced 42 percent of earnings, while someone with monthly earnings at the then-taxable maximum of $7,325 received a benefit that replaced only 28 percent of earnings.” -Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Thomas R. Saving

            http://www.econlib.org/library…..urity.html

          3. The payout, maybe, but I’m not so sure about the tax side.

        3. Along with the regressive effects David Friedman notes — which, incidentally, I probably first saw in his The Machinery of Freedom — there’s also the marginal utility of the payroll tax.

          15% of a poor 18-year-old’s income is worth a lot more to him than that 15% is worth to a 50-year-old. It represents lost opportunities to invest in his own education, to start saving early, or even to move out of his parents’ house. The 50-year-old, on the other hand, is more likely to be in his peak earning years, and the 15% simply isn’t as big a deal for him even though it’s much more money.

          There is a reason that flat tax proposals invariably have a huge deduction before the flat rate kicks in. First-dollar income taxes punish exactly those people who most need the money.

          1. The downside to any attempt to make the tax system more progressive is that it ramps up government spending by making a disconnect between who pays taxes and who receives the goodies paid for by those taxes.

            So, even though the marginal utility of those dollars paid by an 18-year-old is much greater than it is to a 50-year-old, the 18 year old would be eventually BETTER off if they paid the exact same rate as the 50 year old, because that would drastically cut the out-of-control government spending, resulting in a better economy and a better life for that 18 year old the rest of their life.

            1. I dont disagree with your math, but when you think about wha an 18 year old makes, paying more could be the difference between making rent/going to school or not for them. Try to tell someone that they should be homeless from 18-26 because it will be better for them overall.
              I know there are countless factors involved here, but so many economic arguments seem to be made by people who forget, or in some cases never knew, what it was like to be just barely getting by.

            2. This assumes that the 18yo gets more benefits from government spending than the 50yo.

              When the opposite is true.

              1. But I think it’s clear that looking only at the federal income tax greatly exaggerates how progressive the overall tax system is.

                If you’re going to assert that the 50 year old gets more benefits from the government than the 18 year old, you have to state what those benefits are. (But I guess I’m just supposed to “know”.)

                I’m 48 and I honestly don’t know what benefit I get from the government that an 18 year old doesn’t get. About the only thing I have that an 18 year old probably doesn’t have is real estate – and I pay plenty of property taxes on it (plus insurance) to get those “benefits” (actually they are just services paid in advance).

                The 18 and 50 year old both use the same water system, the same sewer system, the same road system, the same police and fire departments.

    4. … and I think still less if you include state taxes.

      That would depend on the state, of course.

    5. I suppose this is why raising taxes on the rich doesn’t really accomplish much. Rates go up, but the total take remains about the same.

      1. The biggest reason (maybe) the current tax revenue is closer to 15% of GDP than 19% is the tax cut from 15% to 10%.

        If the liberals really wanted to get revenue up, they would reverse THAT part of the Bush tax cut.

        Maybe. Not 100% that would work. I know it is more likely to work than raising the 35% back to 39%.

  27. This is the level of reasoning people appear comfortable with.

    Is Thomas Woods surprised by this?

  28. It took Rand Paul showing up to demonstrate that Letterman is a total fucking moron? Or that the folks that think he’s deep and brilliant are still amazed by styrofoam keeping hot things hot and cold things cold? The only reason that putz is in front of a camera is because it sells ad revenues targetted at insomniacs, and the test pattern rates ain;t gonna pay the bills. . .

    1. The only reason that putz is in front of a camera is because it sells ad revenues targetted at insomniacs, and the test pattern rates ain;t gonna pay the bills. . .

      Not. Letterman is allowed to spew rubbish in front of a camera because he is so good at hewing to the party line, and not challenging the liberal prejudices of his viewers.

      If he became much funnier, but did so by mocking liberal beliefs, he’d be pink-slipped so damn fast …

  29. Damn. That was my thought exactly.

  30. Voodoo sex ceremony spawns fatal fire

    “Time and time again we respond to tragedies that could have been so easily prevented,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano said.

    1. Voodoo sex ceremony spawns fatal fire

      Yeah, but did it spawn any spawn?

    2. I still like “Wortwhile Canadian Initiative” better.

      Okay, so I haven’t gotten laid in 2 years.

    3. “A voodoo priest allegedly placed the candles on the floor around the bed on Saturday after a woman paid him $300 to perform a ceremony with a sexual component, that was meant to bring her good luck

      I hope she got a refund.

  31. Saying that the top 1% pay 33% of taxes and the top 50% pay 96% is completely irrelevant unless you also specify that those “1%-ers” hold 42.7% of financial wealth, the next 19% hold 50.3% and the bottom 80% hold 7%. Looking at income distribution gives those tax numbers a bit more substance.

    1. Except of course that we don’t tax wealth, we tax income, and that chart also still shows how obscenely progressive federal individual taxation is.

      http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html

        1. Ahhh wealth envy..

    2. Assuming that income distribution matches wealth distribution, you’re saying that it’s cool that the top 50% pay proportionately 100% more on the income they earn?

      1. Never mind. Re-parses what you wrote. You don’t actually cite a statistic for top 50% of wealth.

    3. Wealth isnt taxed. Income is.

      1. At least not until you die. Then the wealth you managed to accumulate (in spite of all the income taxes you have paid while earning that wealth) is taxed.

        1. If you ask the state to enforce the distribution of your wealth in accordance with your wishes after death, it’s only fair that they get a cut. The estate tax can easily be avoided by giving your wealth to your “beneficiaries” before you die.

          1. Fair cut my ass.

            Estate taxes aren’t exactly easily avoided. It takes decades to gift your potential estate to beneficiaries, various trust vehicles, ceding control of your assets to other parties, and sophisticated tax planning. Giving too much in a single year triggers the gift tax. Giving to beneficiaries other than your spouse, charities, or government triggers the gift tax.

            Not to mention that probate isn’t handled federally. What are you getting when the US treasury takes 50% of your estate? Your point might be arguable at the state level, but not really on the federal level, and certainly not at that rate.

            I’d like to know why giving my money to whoever the fuck I want is taxable to me in the first place.

          2. Well, yeah, a “cut” would be fair, if it were roughly in line with the value of the service rendered. That ain’t what inheritance taxes are, though.

      2. Wealth is absolutely taxed. It’s called a property tax. And the result of this wealth tax is a person who owns a property free and clear pays a lower percentage wealth tax than a person who has a mortgage on the piece of property of the same value.

        1. And the result of this wealth tax is a person who owns a property free and clear pays a lower percentage wealth tax than a person who has a mortgage on the piece of property of the same value.

          The above statement makes no sense whatsoever.

    4. My last sentence should read: “Looking at WEALTH distribution…” Sorry.

      I’m not really sure why so many of you are bringing up the fact that wealth is not taxed. I never said that wealth is taxed. I never implied that wealth is taxed. I am not saying there is a 1-1 correspondence between income and wealth. I simply think its a valid point to make that 20% of the people in the US hold approximately 92% of wealth, especially in a discussion regarding taxes. It provides a bit more insight, gives a more clear perspective on the matter. If we are going to talk about who the government is taking money away from, we should also talk about how much money those people have, regardless of whether or not you are talking about earnings or wealth.

      1. When discussing sales taxes, income or wealth doesnt matter, only purchases. When discussing gasoline taxes, driving miles and gas mileage are key issues.

        When discussing the income tax, wealth doesnt fucking matter. Talk about income distribution, that is fine.

        When talking about the death tax, then wealth matters.

        1. I did not mean to make anyone angry here. Clearly I am no expert in economics, finance or taxation, but I still think talking about wealth distribution is valid even in discussing income tax.

          When determining income tax I realize wealth is irrelevant. Looking at the larger picture however, it seems that these ridiculously progressive income taxes are really not achieving their so called purpose of “redistributing wealth,” because, as we can see, things are a tad bit top heavy. That’s all I am saying. A lot of people complain we are taking too much hard earned cash away from the rich when in reality it’s very clear, at least to me, that there is still a small population of people who control a good majority of wealth.

          I don’t hate rich people, I don’t think they have a responsibility to pay for everything everyone else wants. I don’t think they have so much money we should tax them till their asses bleed. I’m just saying… they have it pretty good and maybe, just maybe, those high income taxes are a bit more justifiable if you look at where the money is and much of it is there.

          1. I wonder if a flat tax on DISPOSABLE income would satisfy everyone? Define DISPOSABLE as everything you make over the minimum wage, health care, education and savings. Any readers think that unfair? Why?

            1. It would be better than the current system. Any income tax is a major invasion of privacy, though.

            2. everything you make over the minimum wage, health care, education and savings

              I’m in the details.

              1. OK, here’s the complete plan with all the details for complete replacement of all federal taxes and entitlements on on page:

                TAX AND ENTITLEMENT REFORM

                1. All persons residing in the U.S. shall come together in households for the purpose of reporting all income from any source, each item to be identified by payer’s and payee’s tax number, and for receipt of federal and state benefits. Members of a household need not be related, need not reside together, and a household may consist of as few as one person.
                2. Each year congress shall set by legislation a “minimum wage” and a “tax rate”.
                3. The following income shall not be subject to taxation:
                ? An amount equal to a year’s earnings at the minimum wage rate, for each adult (age 20-65) member of the household, decreasing 10% per year to 50% at age 15, and increasing 10% per year to 150% at age 70.
                ? All payments for what is classified as necessary health care for all members of the household including medical care, any pharmaceuticals prescribed by a recognized health care professional, vision and hearing aids, and membership fees for health-enhancing entities such as gyms or other exercise facilities. Health care insurance premiums may be deducted but not health care expense paid for by such insurance.
                ? All educational expenses including day care for young children or legally incompetent persons, that portion of state and local taxes identified as spent on education, that portion of parochial school tuition, fees and other expenses identified as going for non-sectarian education, tuition, fees and educational materials for private school education at any level, and a per-diem allowance for students traveling more than 50 miles from primary residence for education.
                ? All income saved into an identified account from which investments may be made. All withdrawals from this account for the benefit of any member of the household shall be reported as income to that member.
                4. The “tax rate” shall be applied to any income over and above the deductions listed above, regardless of amount.
                5. At the request, by legislation duly enacted by any municipality having greater than 100,000 inhabitants or any state, a surtax may be imposed on citizens of that municipality or state which shall be applied in a manner exactly as applied for the Federal tax.
                6. For households whose deductions exceed total income, the Federal Government shall make payment equal to the tax rate multiplied by the shortfall in income, as shall municipalities and states.
                7. There shall be no federal tax on corporations or other business entities.
                8. The Office of Management and Budget shall compute revenues to be expected using the newly set tax rate and minimum wage, applied to the previous year’s reported incomes. No expenses in excess of that amount may be authorized or made by the federal government without approval by 75% of each house of Congress.

                Your suggestions sincerely requested. E-mail them to tbeebe6535@yahoo.com.

                1. Not bad, but the federal government can’t dicatate the taxing powers of states and municipalities (assuming you are proposing a federal law).

            3. Not unfair, just stupid. If people are giving to charity or investing their money, government doesn’t improve its finances by taxing them (power is another question), since it now has to dedicate more to welfare or deal with more unemployed people.

              Consumption tax makes more sense in terms of what the populist idea of redistribution really is (that guy’s TV is bigger than mine! MOOOOOOOM!), though it wouldn’t appeal to actual socialists since it doesn’t redistribute capital (but neither does the current system, really, it just consumes it); but it would have to be progressive to have chance of getting off the ground.

          2. One of the problem’s is your treating “the rich” as a monolithic group. Some have come by their wealth honestly, some by rent seeking.

          3. The problem is that people like SeanJohn envision something akin to Scrooge McDuck’s gigantic vault when they think about “wealth.” That’s not really a knock on you, SeanJohn. It’s natural to think that way, but it’s also wrong.

          4. “they have it pretty good and maybe, just maybe, those high income taxes are a bit more justifiable if you look at where the money is and much of it is there.”

            I can’t see how tax rates become “justifiable” simply because money is there.

      2. Have you checked your tax bill on that part of your wealth called a residence? Or, here in St Louis, on your automobiles as well? And isn’t it strange that your income is taxed as earned, and that to which it is directed, such as the houses and cars mentioned above, are then taxed this year, and the next, and the next, and…

  32. I also wonder if he thinks doubling teacher salaries wouldn’t put a lot of the current crop of teachers out of work.

    It would if there were any objective measurement of value added in use.

    Did the senator offer Letterman the address at the Treasury Dept for gifts and voluntary contributions? If he didn’t he certainly should have. They could have put it up on the studio monitors, for the benefit of the boobs.

  33. I see I’m a little late; that’s what happens when you don’t read all the comments first.

    Every member of the so-called
    Tea Party” should have that Treasury address on a laminated card in his pocket (as a place marker for the Fourth Amendment page of his CATO Pocket Constitution), and every single time anybody complains they or any other American is “undertaxed” that card should come out.

    1. OTHER people are undertaxed, you ignoramus. we are only ok with are personal income taxes being raised because that is the only way to sell taxing those other bastards. if we could get a personal exemption from paying taxes while raising everyone else’s taxes, we’d do it.

  34. Wealth isnt taxed. Income is.

    It’s a harder (as in “better”) number.

  35. KOCHTOPUS!!!!

    The Times’s Eric Lipton has been rounding up opinions on exactly that question: “To Bob Edgar, a former House Democrat who is now president of Common Cause, a liberal group that has been critical of what it sees as the rising influence of corporate interests in American politics, the Koch brothers are using their money to create a fa?ade of grass-roots support for their favorite causes. ‘This is a dangerous moment in America history,’ Mr. Edgar said. ‘It is not that these folks don’t have a right to participate in politics. But they are moving democracy into the control of more wealthy corporate hands.’ “

    If Common Cause says it, you know it’s true!

    1. and George Soros….?

    2. “‘It is not that these folks don’t have a right to participate in politics. But…”

      See that “But”? It means he’s lying in the prior sentence.

  36. If we are going to talk about who the government is taking money away from, we should also talk about how much money those people have

    “They have more than they need! They can afford it.”

    Fuck off.

    1. Daily Quiz: Do you have money in a savings account, IRA or 401K?

      Yes.

      Proof that you are under-taxed.

      1. Please don’t ask the next obvious question.

        1. I want to talk about the imputed net rental income of “your” home — in the spirit of taxing every available source.

          1. Don’t forget the advertising potential of the sides and roof.

  37. Rand Paul just needs to channel Hitchens for a while on how to deal with a hostile audience.

    1. Hostile audience? It’s a CBS Studios audience. They’re not hostile to anything other than taste and intelligence.

      1. But, 2 1/2 Men is a hit show! #1!

        1. That is what is known as “The Charlie Sheen Effect”. This effect also applies to Men at Work.

          1. “There are several sacred things in this world that you don’t *ever* mess with. One of them happens to be another man’s fries. Now, you remember that, and you will live a long and healthy life. “

  38. Letterman wouldn’t know what a supermarket check-out scanner is either. Talk about out of touch — wow.

  39. Letterman hasn’t been funny for thirty years either.

  40. Letterman, to general applause, says that figure should be doubled. Isn’t education important?

    ‘Gosh, it sure is!’, ya MidWestern hayseed born of questionable genetic forking.

    So, if we double the salaries of teh public instructors which one of your other favorite programs are you willing to gut or get rid of to put that into effect?

    None of them? They are all too precious to touch, and need to be expanded too, you say?

    How about this, then. Each state puts on the ballot a ten cent sales tax increase to fund the continuously growing liability of the public sector employee, and we’ll call it the Proposition Fuck You Tax Payers, Now Wipe Our Public Employee Asses.

  41. if we double the salaries of teh public instructors which one of your other favorite programs are you willing to gut or get rid of to put that into effect?

    Wait- are you attempting to imply there is not an infinite supply of money available for the benefit of the public sector? What kind of monster are you?

  42. So Rand Paul is more knowledgeable than David Letterman. Talk about faint praise.

    1. And more knowledgeable than Neu, speaking of faint praise.

      1. Hi sevo…

  43. if we double the salaries of teh public instructors which one of your other favorite programs are you willing to gut or get rid of to put that into effect?

    Get rid of park rangers. Hike at your own effin’ risk.

    1. but then who would have the authority to search anyone on a public park for any reason. seriously, park rangers have way too much authority.

  44. I wonder if a flat tax on DISPOSABLE income would satisfy everyone?

    No.

    A LOW (5%) flat tax on every dollar, from any source. After that, what you do with it is nobody’s business but yours; no social engineering, “nudges” or rent seeking allowed.

    Defining DISPOSABLE opens the door to a vast array of rentseeking fuckheads like real estate agents, “daycare providers” and tax attorneys.

    Similarly, a gross receipts tax on businesses of about 3%.

    Fees for government services actually provided will not only be allowed, but encouraged.

    1. Why can’t people who don’t use government services just be exempt from paying taxes altogether? Or why not just have the government operate on a user-fee basis? Or, better yet, why not make government a voluntary institution?

      1. Why can’t people who don’t use government services just be exempt from paying taxes altogether?

        Who are these people?

        Or why not just have the government operate on a user-fee basis?

        There is a reasonable argument to say that taxes are a user fee for government services. Certainly there are ways to make this more direct, but there are certain government services that are “used” in a fairly covert way that makes it hard to find a point of service (think police as opposed to sanitation).

        1. I was talking hypothetically. You would agree not to use the USPS, police, fire, so on, and in exchange you don’t pay any taxes.

          1. I was talking hypothetically. You would agree not to use the USPS, police, fire, so on, and in exchange you don’t pay any taxes.

            This works for USPS-like services (which are already fee based for the most part)…the trick is this. How do you not use law enforcement and other services that have a distributed benefit?

            1. Probably the same way dozens of other private security firms operate.. You sign up for service, and if you call them, they show up.

              1. Sy,

                That’s not a very efficient model for security. The primary benefit you are paying for with police is an enforcement presence aimed at deterring crime. That benefit is distributed to your neighbors who can take a free ride on the service if you are the one paying for it.

                1. It’s very efficient. I pay for it, I receive service, and it works as a deterrent.
                  More to the point, though. How is that in any way different from havingto pick up the phone and dial for police when someone is breaking into your home?
                  You call 911, they may OR may not show up. With most forms of private security, you have a dispatch send security or contact you the moment an alarm is set off, which may be well before you’re aware of a threat.
                  If others receive some benefit of my residence having private security, so be it. I’m still receiving a service that far surpasses the value of ‘911’ service and city employees.

        2. There is a reasonable argument to say that taxes are a user fee for government services.

          That is no longer reasonable, as the services have taken a back seat to the eternal jobs program.

  45. The rich pay such high percentages of the income tax because they have such a high percentage of the income! The fact is, all taxation factored in, our system is only mildly progressive. If Paul can’t tolerate the possibility that maybe rates for the rich have to go up sometimes, relying on a disingenuous focus on fed income tax rates, he’s not being serious about the budget. Hes an ideologue who thinks taxes should always go down because he hates government. The fact that you guys buy into the idea that billionaires are overburdened but teachers are living an unfairly privileged life shows what classist nuts you are.

    1. “The rich pay such high percentages of the income tax because they have such a high percentage of the income!”

      The circular logic and question-begging present in this single sentence is absolutely astounding and a true wonder to behold. The rich should pay higher taxes because they’re rich? Jesus, you’re dense.

      “The fact is, all taxation factored in, our system is only mildly progressive.”

      Through bracket creep, more and more families are considered ‘rich’ with each passing year. This progressive taxation business punishes hard work, causes capital consumption, and requires a massive bureaucratic apparatus to enforce. The only reason liberals like it so much is because they have a Marxian fetish for class warfare.

      “If Paul can’t tolerate the possibility that maybe rates for the rich have to go up sometimes, relying on a disingenuous focus on fed income tax rates, he’s not being serious about the budget.”

      The rich are the most mobile segment of our population. The more you raise taxes on them, the more the opportunity cost of working in the United States decreases. They can afford to move.

      And who here isn’t being serious on the budget? You want the government to keep funneling money into stimulus package boondoggles, our atrocious public education system, and your self-defeating welfare programs. You refuse to touch any spending outside of defense, and thus cannot be taking seriously. Stop feigning support for reducing the deficit and debt, and just come clean on the fact that you want the government to pursue Keynesian fiscal and monetary policies until our society finally implodes.

      “Hes an ideologue who thinks taxes should always go down because he hates government.”

      I don’t see the problem with hating government. You think it’s rational to love government, so why can’t it be rational to detest it?

      “The fact that you guys buy into the idea that billionaires are overburdened but teachers are living an unfairly privileged life shows what classist nuts you are.”

      Most billionaires got their money through voluntary exchanges, by satisfying consumer demand and raising the standard of living for all Americans. As much as you grind your teeth whenever anyone says it, America’s wealthy entrepreneurs are the engines of our economy. Anyone can hammer nails into planks of wood, but almost no one can do what people like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates did.

      Public employees, on the other hand, live off the teat of government. They are parasites who do not receive their wealth through voluntary exchange, rather, it is stolen from the taxpayer and given to them hand over fist. They are protected from ever having to face real competition in the market place, and are able to pressure government to give them more and more largesse from the public trough. They disgust me, and I don’t really care what ends up happening to them.

      1. The only reason liberals like it so much is because they have a Marxian fetish for class warfare.

        I disagree. The reason they like it is because it automatically funds their ideology. Notice that they are willing to ‘negotiate’ on rates and compensation now in WI, but there can be no discussion about removing auto payments and union re-certification.

        Those are the things that keep the money flowing to the ‘correct’ people, and that is what the fight is really about, not ‘middle class’ workers.

        1. Yeah those teachers and janitors have been making off like bandits. Unlike those poor downtrodden billionaires.

          1. There’s billionaires living in WI school districts? How many?

          2. Yeah those teachers and janitors have been making off like bandits.

            No Tony, again you miss the point. The Union is now willing to negotiate the salaries of those teachers and janitors.

            What won’t they budge on?

            Why, the automatic funding for the political party that just put the same people in charge of the financial sector as the ‘enemy’, Tony.

            Go carry a sign, Tony, they need more rubes.

      2. The rich should pay higher taxes because they’re rich?

        Welcome to progressive taxation. It holds that taxes should fund the society we want without burdening anyone. Obviously half the income taken from a poor person would be devastating. The same taken from a wealthy person results in a person who is still wealthy. People are not taxed according to a moral assessment of their worth to society. If that were so, why wouldn’t we investigate the criminal records of all taxpayers and make the bad guys pay more?

        a Marxian fetish for class warfare.

        Such a slimy, Orwellian slur for the type of tax system every livable society on earth has. If it’s class warfare, who’s been winning for 4 decades? All you have to do is follow the money. It’s all been going upward.

        The rich are the most mobile segment of our population. The more you raise taxes on them, the more the opportunity cost of working in the United States decreases. They can afford to move.

        Ah, policy by extortion. Where are they gonna go? To one of the other countries worth living in with even more progressive taxes?

        You refuse to touch any spending outside of defense, and thus cannot be taking seriously.

        Not true. I also want to get rid of the massive spending programs otherwise known as unjustified corporate subsidies and unfunded tax cuts for the rich. Since I have real morals, I don’t believe in cutting services to the poor before we touch the rich. The poor didn’t cause the economic situation, so why are we punishing them for it?

        America’s wealthy entrepreneurs are the engines of our economy.

        In what way? By all evidence, the primary way “wealthy entrepreneurs” have been innovating in recent decades are ways to get favorable policy passed and finding ways to employ cheap overseas labor. You want to reward people just because they’re rich, as if that in and of itself were a virtue, and as if our tax policy should be based on this perverted notion of who is morally virtuous.

        1. “Welcome to progressive taxation. It holds that taxes should fund the society we want without burdening anyone. Obviously half the income taken from a poor person would be devastating. The same taken from a wealthy person results in a person who is still wealthy. People are not taxed according to a moral assessment of their worth to society. If that were so, why wouldn’t we investigate the criminal records of all taxpayers and make the bad guys pay more?”

          I’m not an objectivist, Tony. I don’t think the rich are morally virtuous. I’m a moral nihilist, so stop debating against me like I’m something else.

          And I love that false dichotomy you’ve got going their, Tony. We either have to soak the rich, or take half the income of the poor? I tend to prefer Option C, where no one pays any taxes. It eliminates all those pesky economic distortions and dead weight losses that are features of every left-wing taxation policy.

          “Such a slimy, Orwellian slur for the type of tax system every livable society on earth has. If it’s class warfare, who’s been winning for 4 decades? All you have to do is follow the money. It’s all been going upward.”

          I’m not really sure what an ‘Orwellian slur’ is, but I do know that it’s followed by a fallacy of popularity. If every other society on the planet burned old people at the stake, would that make it an acceptable practice in your eyes?

          And the upward flow of wealth has come about via rent-seeking and industry consolidation, brought upon by government contracting and regulation.

          “Ah, policy by extortion. Where are they gonna go? To one of the other countries worth living in with even more progressive taxes?”

          Hong Kong, Liechenstein, Australia, Singapore, Macau, Switzerland, Russia (13% flat personal income tax, believe it or not), and so on. Higher tax rates also lower the opportunity cost of just not reporting income and trying to find loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

          “Not true. I also want to get rid of the massive spending programs otherwise known as unjustified corporate subsidies and unfunded tax cuts for the rich.”

          Actually, while subsidies are a problem, they’re a pretty small part of the overall budget, if I’m not mistaken. Farm subsidies alone only account for something in the area of $4 billion. And what are the three biggest non-defense spending items? Why, it’s Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security!

          And I don’t even know what an ‘unfunded tax cut’ is. We’re just letting people keep more of their own money.

          “Since I have real morals”

          *gags*

          “I don’t believe in cutting services to the poor before we touch the rich. The poor didn’t cause the economic situation, so why are we punishing them for it?”

          Well, you’re going to have to cut welfare programs to the parasites if you ever hope to balance the budget. But you did get one thing right, though; the poor didn’t cause the recession. The Federal Reserve, an institution created by a progressive Democrat, did.

          “In what way? By all evidence, the primary way ‘wealthy entrepreneurs’ have been innovating in recent decades are ways to get favorable policy passed and finding ways to employ cheap overseas labor.”

          And in doing so, they make products cheaper and easier to afford for all Americans. Ricardian law of association, how does it work?

          “You want to reward people just because they’re rich, as if that in and of itself were a virtue, and as if our tax policy should be based on this perverted notion of who is morally virtuous.”

          I don’t think the government should ‘reward’ anyone, Tony. My tax policy has always been the following: Regardless of whether you are rich, poor, or middle class, you shall pay no taxes.

          1. Do you actually believe this bullshit you’re peddling? You saying you want anarchy is a conversation stopper. It’s like me saying I want Star Trek style socialism, or a Christian wanting heaven on earth. It won’t ever happen. There is no practical pathway to it, and achieving it would be riding roughshod over the wishes of the vast majority of people.

            That being said, you are making a moral judgment. You did it right there when you called the poor parasites. I think the rich are more aptly called parasites in this country, but then I care about who’s actually fleecing the system and not just who seems icky and undeserving.

            1. “Do you actually believe this bullshit you’re peddling?”

              So Tony, when was the last time you beat your wife?

    2. The rich have long since observed, Tony, that it is easier to go along with the populace and agree to high taxation so long as they have privileged access to contracts , permits and relations with government agents that allow them to gain much more wealth then they would be if they would be competing into a free market. The more you think you tax them, the more you actually give them reason and means to stay connected to political power overseeing the economy.
      I would venture to say that nothing would scare today’s rich people more then more deregulation and less taxation, as it would destroy their fine arrangements.

      1. Look all you have to do is see who is lobbying for what. Are rich interests lobbying for more regulation and higher taxes? I don’t think so. Evidence, it’s not optional.

        In your circular way you get around to a good point. It is in their interest to pay taxes to fund a decent society for everyone else. One, they get the decent society too, two, they keep the masses pacified. There is a point at which people won’t tolerate all the country’s wealth being concentrated at the top, not because they’re envious parasites, but because they, being the vast majority, feel they have contributed to that wealth. Whose pockets a country’s collective wealth ends up in is hugely determined by policy. Wealthy interests almost by definition have outsize influence in government. The policies they’ve been asking for and getting are more deregulation and lower taxes for themselves.

        1. Do you ever look at the advertisements in the NY Times, Tony?

          Who sits on the Boards that hired our Left-wing (sic) professoriate? The working poor?

          I see who is lobbying for what. Do you?

          1. Ever consider that if mainstream academia and journalism all tend to think a certain way, maybe it’s you who are wrong?

            1. Constantly.

              Then I consider the wrong track numbers their leadership is producing, and why.

              Glad you’re willing to admit the extent to which your narrative/ideology is currently dominant, though. That’s a good first step away from the victimology.

              Can’t be both underdog and overdog.

            2. Ever consider that if mainstream academia and journalism all tend to think a certain way, maybe it’s you who are wrong?

              Did you ever consider that maybe mainstream academia and journalism are profitable businesses that are simply trying to protect their bottom line?

            3. In the 1930’s, all across Europe, it was considered “de bon ton” to be right wing and anti-Semitic. All the cool kids did it, spurred by their professors in academia. What does that tell you about mainstream consensus?

              1. Since our academics tend to be liberals and not fascists and racists, it tells me that content matters. It can’t be the case that academics and journalists are always wrong because they are academics and journalists.

                1. They do in fact tend to be liberals who are easily cowed by the Leftists (sic) among them who have purged most if not all of the dissenters from their (social immobility producing) orthodoxy.

                  They may not be always wrong, but they are often not right enough, even for government work.

      2. And they certainly wouldn’t fund free-market mouthpieces like reason.

        1. How known and influential are the Kochs, compared to a Soros or a Buffett?

          1. Known, less (since there isn’t a bogeyman factory on the left like there is with FOX News), influential, more. The Kochs don’t like to advertise their machinations.

    3. >The rich pay such high percentages of the income tax because they have such a high percentage of the income!

      Ah, yes: the Willie Sutton principle. Naturally, the plunderers will seek to plunder the wealthy.

      -jcr

    4. “Hes an ideologue who thinks taxes should always go down because he hates government.”

      The reason taxes should always and everywhere be cut exists regardless of whether he hates the government or not.
      Every increase in taxes results in spending that amount and more. The *only* way to reduce spending is to cut taxes at every opportunity, for any reason, and to cut taxes on the ‘rich’, the ‘poor’ and everyone in between.

    5. The fact that you guys buy into the idea that billionaires are overburdened but teachers are living an unfairly privileged life shows what classist nuts you are.

      Here’s a more appropriate response, as opposed to the drivel you spewed, Tony:

      “We understand you – the guy who pays us our entire paycheck, healthcare, and pension – has no pension, has to work insane hours with no ot, compete with foreign labor for $100/week and do all of that for a shitty wage with few benefits and NO job security. So we’d just like to say THANK YOU for what you have given us and we would like to request a reduction of ALL our perks and wages so they may align perfectly with our fellow workers.”

  46. The fact is, all taxation factored in, our system is only mildly progressive.

    Bullshit. Unless you have a non-standard definition of “mild”.

    If I earn something, it is taxed at a combined marginal rate for all levels of government of pushing 2/3 of earnings.

    The poorest in our society pay well less than that in marginal rates.

    1. prolefeed,

      You are actually missing Tony’s main point: We libertarians aren’t envious enough!

      Haven’t you noticed all the digs about people starving so that a billionaire can drive a Bugatti Veyron?

      We say “keep your mits to yourself!” But when one does that someone might amass alot of wealth! To an envious person this is a big problem. To a libertarian, it’s not a problem at all – so long as the wealth is amassed through production and/or voluntary trade.

      Now serious students of economic history recognize that in the presence of free markets, you get a large middle class, some rich people, and a shrinking pool of people in poverty. It wasn’t the existence of unions, for example, that ensured that a poor woman had access to stockings that 100 years previously were only available to the very wealthy. It was the expansion of production prompted by the opportunity to get rich off of one’s own labors.

      But to the envious, the very existence of the wealthy is the problem. To them it’s as much a crime as a mugger taking someone’s baby’s milk-money is to us.

      I think this is the cause of Tony’s frustration. A very envious person thinks it’s OK to take stuff that other people has because it’s intolerable that they don’t share their good fortune. Or, if they are opposed to taking, using force to prevent someone from getting more stuff.

      Consider Paris Hilton, for example. Now, I think we can all stipulate that Paris Hilton will consume far more than she produces. And her consumption is so frivolous as completely revolt my half Scotch-Yankee love of frugality.

      However, the wealth she consumes was amassed by people who loved her and gave it to her, and to a libertarian the fact that her dad and granddad wanted her to have that wealth they had worked so hard to produce is sufficient reason for her to have it.

      Someone filled with envy, though, looks at Paris Hilton and screams she doesn’t deserve that wealth, decent people do! They view her as being the beneficiary of a natal lottery, and rather than seeing her wealth as a gift of love, view it as a theft from their pockets.

      This is why I don’t think Tony will ever accept all the evidence thrown at him that he is wrong. Because to admit that forcible redistribution of wealth away from the halves would require him to confront the envy & greed that is the core of his being. Far more comfortable to repeatedly type out the same jingoistic slogans and to close his mind to reason.

      1. Very well said. This also shows the error in one all-too-well-adored phrase, that america should be a land of equal opportunity. Paris had a bit more opportunity than I. But it was not just the good fortune of her ancestors, but their intelligence and industry as well. So let us discard all mention of equality but one: “Equal Justice Under Law”.

      2. sweet

      3. @ tarran —

        I think what you say is true, but is still an intermediate step in the illogic that Tony and liberals like him use. The core of their philosophy is that a handful of really smart people like him are capable of managing the affairs of millions of common proles like us, and can get better than results than we can. They view the theft of the possessions of rich people like Paris Hilton as a way to improve things.

        Whereas the more humble libertarian core philosophy is that no one, no matter how smart, is capable of doing a good job of managing the lives of a complex economic ecosystem, and so the smartest thing is to set up a few simple rules regarding non-initiation of force and let the process run, and grit our teeth and accept that results like Paris Hilton’s conspicuous consumption can’t be legislated away without producing misery for others due to the adverse effects of such ham-handed attempts to manage results instead of setting up fair processes and letting the results happen.

        1. The core of their philosophy is that a handful of really smart people like him are capable of managing the affairs of millions of common proles like us, and can get better than results than we can.

          How are you any different, apart from being a smaller group?

          You act like there is such a thing as having no policy. There’s having your policy or having my policy or something in between. You don’t get to weasel out of this fact just because you are for ultra laissez-faire policies, which most people wouldn’t want to be subjected to. You want to manage just as much as we do, you just want to be a hands-off manager.

          1. You don’t seem to grasp the fundamental difference between our POVs. You seem to think that a handful of elite can micro-manage in great detail, thousands and thousands of laws and regulations and individual court decisions, all trying to get certain TOP-DOWN RESULTS using COERCION and thinking this will turn out well for hundreds of millions of people.

            I reject the notion that anyone is smart enough to handle such complexity well. I think that the best way to handle such an incredibly complicated ecosystem is to set up a PROCESS with just a few rules prohibiting initiation of force — no raping, murdering, or stealing — and then leave all those hundreds of millions of people and then just let whatever BOTTOM-UP EMERGENT results happen.

            You: elites, top-down, results-focused, coercion

            Me: everyone, bottom-up, process-focused, no initiation of force

            How in the hell do you think these are at all variants the same thing?

            1. Shorter:

              My policy: you don’t get to rape anyone I care about. You don’t get to steal from those people. You don’t get to murder them, or physically harm them. If you do any of those things, we’ll personally retaliate, or hire someone to do that for us. Otherwise, we’ll leave you alone.

              No government there, because a monopoly government claiming a monopoly of the use of force in a geographic area is an initiation of force.

              So, no, the above is not at all the same thing as the huge, powerful government you want.

              1. If your single-minded focus on “initiation of force” as the only wrong in the universe leads you to believe it’s better without a government, that it’s better for disputes to be solved by barbaric, illegitimate means, then that’s just evidence that your single-minded focus is a flawed outlook. As if you needed any.

                Some top-down organization is obviously required for modern society. You’re not selling you case at all by painting a picture of roving gangs enforcing multitudes of standards of law. What makes you think everyone will agree with your ethics? What makes you think you’ll be adequately armed to deal with those who don’t? Governments exist because they are necessary.

                1. “If your single-minded focus on ‘initiation of force’ as the only wrong in the universe leads you to believe it’s better without a government, that it’s better for disputes to be solved by barbaric, illegitimate means,”

                  Private courts, private defense agencies, private police, so on. I suggest you actually go and read up on voluntaryism and anarcho-capitalism, because you have a pretty twisted view on what we believe.

                  “Some top-down organization is obviously required for modern society.”

                  I mean, obviously, right? No reason to explain myself, it’s just obvious. Obviously.

                  “You’re not selling you case at all by painting a picture of roving gangs enforcing multitudes of standards of law. ”

                  This is painful. Please, go read the chapter in “The Machinery of Freedom” by David Friedman where he talks about how disputes would be handled in an anarcho-capitalist society. It’s not at all like what you’re describing.

                  “Governments exist because they are necessary.”

                  Tony likes to make assertions without backing them up with any empirical evidence or theory. It makes engaging him in a political discussion very, very, tiresome and annoying.

                  1. Well done, Tncm.

          2. “ultra laissez-faire policies, which most people wouldn’t want to be subjected to”

            Wow. That there is some industrial strength point missing.

            1. Is the point “who cares what most people want, I’m right, and if this world were fair, I’d get to impose my cult-like beliefs on the unwilling masses, because I’m special and smarter than they are”?

              Because I think it is.

              1. Not content with industrial strength, Tony goes military grade.

                The point is that philosophies have content as well as form and use. The content of laissez-faire having as an essential feature reducing that which people are subjected to; per se, not per quod.

                Maybe it’s the French tripping you up.

                1. No, it’s the stunning inability to self-examine that’s tripping him up.

                  1. For his next trick, Tony will inspire us to boredom and liberate the people to oppression.

              2. No – libertarians don’t want to impose anything on anyone but prohibitions on use of viol… no, forget it. Pretend I didn’t say anything.

          3. “You want to manage just as much as we do, you just want to be a hands-off manager.”

            Is it just me, or does this statement not make any sense? We want to manage everything…by not managing?

      4. so long as the wealth is amassed through production and/or voluntary trade.

        And what on earth about the status quo makes you believe that the wealth concentrated at the top in this country was all earned this way?

        in the presence of free markets, you get a large middle class, some rich people, and a shrinking pool of people in poverty.

        Yeah but not free markets alone. Those tend to result in concentration of wealth at the top. Progressive policy coupled with capitalism is the only thing that has ever reduce poverty and misery on significant scales in the modern world. We’ve tried free markets, often in countries whose governments we helped overthrow. Isn’t long before widespread misery sets in and the people demand socialism.

        Then you go on with this heartfelt apologia for inherited wealth! I thought it all had to do with hard work and ingenuity? You’re the one insisting on this stark moral basis for tax rates. Sounds like we should tax all inheritance 100%, since none of it was actually earned.

        1. Progressive policy coupled with capitalism is the only thing that has ever reduce poverty and misery on significant scales in the modern world.

          So it’s your theory that no significant reduction in poverty or misery occurred between the American Revolution and the Progressive Era in the early 1900s?

          Srsly?

        2. And what on earth about the status quo makes you believe that the wealth concentrated at the top in this country was all earned this way?

          Since I don’t believe that, I can’t answer your question.

          But, I have written about how to deal with it on this very site, here

          Morally speaking, I believe many of the titles are, in fact illegitimate. However, good luck finding someone with a legitimate title. The original owners are dead. It is unclear whom they would have transferred their ownership right to. Certainly at this point in time, there is no way to identify who is the rightful owner of what.

          Also, there is no way to identify which titles are legitimate, and which are not. Let’s say 98% of the land was taken through violence, and 2% was acquired through legitimate trade. How would we know which group a parcel of land would fall into? If we confiscate all the land to give to the putative heirs of the victim, wouldn’t we be robbing those who own the 2%?

          Additionally, how do we know that the pre-European inhabitants had acquired the territory legitimately? The native americans could and did wage wars of conquest.

          The practical solution is to accept claims of ownership, unless someone can demonstrate a competing claim. Thus the passage of years, and the death and dispersion of the victims and their descendants, practically speaking, make those who acquired the land from the thieves and murderers of the owners.

          You then go on to say

          Yeah but not free markets alone. Those tend to result in concentration of wealth at the top.

          TONY, THIS IS WRONG! AS IN HISTORICALLY FALSE.

          If free markets concentrated wealth, why did aristocrats get thrown into poverty by the industrial revolution?

          After all, they had all the capital at the start of it, and as the revolution and the liberalization of countries like England led to freer markets, under your rubric they should have increased their stranglehold on wealth.

          And this did not happen. To the contrary, the aristocrats lost their stranglehold on power, to the point that they became big supporters of Fabian socialism as a way of reclaiming their privileges of directing the masses.

          Every time I’ve studied a situation where wealth is getting concentrated, I have found forcible redistribution fromt he masses to the people amassing the wealth, typically through blatant rent seeking policies that require government enforcement to work.

          We’ve tried free markets, often in countries whose governments we helped overthrow.

          This is a false statement. The United States has never established free markets in any country whatso-ever. The most lucky ones had the United States imposing mercantilist systems on the countries it has conquered for the benefit of U.S. businesses. The really unlucky ones got command and control economies. In fact that’s what Bush II imposed on Iraq where the U.S. army spent a lot of time cracking down on black markets for electricity, gasoline and food.

          The one example that people like to hold up, Germany after World war II, liberalized despite U.S. opposition – in fact, the finance minister relaxed price controls on Thanksgiving day to ensure that by the time the U.S. Army figured out what he had done, it would be too late to undo his proclamations.

          The only “historian” that I know of who advances the notion that the U.S. imposes free markets on an unwilling world is Naomi Klein, who is *not* a very good historian – her books on economic history do to the field what the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” did to judaic studies.

          Then you go on with this heartfelt apologia for inherited wealth! I thought it all had to do with hard work and ingenuity? You’re the one insisting on this stark moral basis for tax rates. Sounds like we should tax all inheritance 100%, since none of it was actually earned.

          Wow! Way to miss the point! I mean, I wrote it out for you at a level any high-schooler should understand. OK, maybe you learned to read at a government school and need it simplified further.

          Paris Hilton earned every dime in her bank account. She earned it because her daddy and grandpa decided she had earned it and gave it to her. I don’t know how she earned it. It could be her daddy wanted to give money to her because she was born. Or maybe she has earned her daddy’s love and he resonds by fiving her lots of money. We don’t know why becasue her daddy hasn’t told us. But her daddy did want to pay her that money so he must feel she has earned it. And, that’s all that matters.

          If I give you money for something, or even for nothing, you have, in fact earned it, as much as you have earned your salary by performing whatever service you perform for him/her/it when you are not attacking freedom on this here website.

          Now, let’s imagine that the government, as you would like it to do, takes some of that money and says to Paris’ parents, “she’s not worthy, we’re going to give it to some poor woman whose kids have cancer” and they use it to pay for the cancer treatments that save the live of a child who lives in a destitute household.

          What has that child done to earn that wealth? I expect you will claim that by becoming stricken with cancer, that child has evoked our pity, but is that any more valid a claim on that wealth than the love/pity/whatever Paris Hilton evoked in her parents’ and grandparents’ minds?

          I should point out that your rejoinder to my comments above very neatly confirms the main point of my argument:

          Even if free markets concentrated wealth at the top (they don’t but let’s pretend they do for a moment), we wouldn’t see it as a problem, because people are better off than they would be otherwise under free markets: even the most hapless worker has his marginal productivity improved by the capital equipment constantly being invented and put into service, and as has been shown theoretically and empirically, workers’ wages are proportional to their marginal productivity.

          Interestingly, this phenomenon is really ignored by you and the people you parrot. Instead they focus on the fact that the ultra wealthy are getting richer faster than the poor are as being the problem. Which, in the end is basically envy.

          1. You just wasted a ton of words on Tony. It would have been more wise to spread them out over a few weeks and sprinkle them with some troll juice.

            1. This is a family-friendly site. We’ll have no “sprinking” with “troll juice”, young man (or woman).

              Even though that’s probably a type of kinkiness Tony would totally be into.

              * stomps off in indignant huff *

          2. Paris Hilton earned every dime in her bank account.

            Then your definition of earning is pointless.

            You are just hand-waving away the possibility that an unregulated market could descend into oligarchy. Where the wealth goes in a country is the product of policy. There is not a sweet spot of fairness where everyone gets what they deserve. Policy can just hope to reward people for what society values. To an overwhelming extent, that entails following market signals. But the market can be wrong, and we should not be slaves to it. It’s a tool, not an object of worship.

            1. Tony, you control where your money goes in a free market. Don’t like Paris Hilton? Then don’t support her with your money! Don’t like a hedge fund managers? Don’t give them your money! Don’t want health insurance, don’t buy… oh, nevermind.

              But you don’t have the right to say that other people paying for what they want is “unfair.” The point is that we have no real control over what the government does with our money. Public school teachers are not our employees. They enjoy the same status as politicians. Who decides how much a public school teacher is paid? Politicians who can be bought by public unions.

            2. Wow. Dude, why not get a full night’s sleep and then post?

              What a bunch of non-sequiturs!

              Tony, the market is not a thing that makes decisions. It is a tool people use to acquire goods and services that they wish to consume.

              What you are claiming is that this tool allows people to do things you don’t like, and to act on decisions that you don’t approve of, and in a free market you lack the tools to compel them to change their behavior.

              Not to go all Covey on your ass, but you need to learn to reduce your Circle of Concern to fit within your Circle of Influence rather than to try to use force in a desperate bid to expand your Circle of Influence to gargantuan proportions. Because, in the end, the polity will rarely act in ways that you want it to if it should gain control over who gets what.

              Ed Markey won’t ask himself “what would Tony do?” He asks himself “what can I get away with?” And in a society where a strong government picks winners and losers, the answer is quite alot.

          3. And surely you agree that the market rewards what society values. I just disagree that it does so all by itself. Or are hedge fund managers really worth 5 million teachers apiece?

            If you say that it’s government meddling that has caused so grotesque a distortion of our values, then you agree that we need to change government policy to rectify it, right?

            1. Nothing any of you say matters.

            2. First of all, it is grotesque that you equate a persons moral/social value with their income.

              Secondly, you have a very poor idea of how to right wrongs. Let’s argue that hedge fund managers are rewarded to a degree that they would not be under a free market thanks to government policy. This means that some of the money in their bank accounts should belong to other people.

              Justice occurs when people who are harmed are made whole again. So, we need to figure out who is harmed and how much money to trasnfer out of the hedge fund manager”s bank acount to return to the people harmed by government intervention.

              How do you do that? how do you figure out which particular individuals deserve to be enriched? How do you quantify how much each individual is owed?

              You can’t! And you don’t even try!

              What you are saying is that we should take money away from the hedge fund manager and give it to people you have arbitrarily decreed to be more deserving of it, and that this is somehow justified by the fact that the Hedge Fund manager ripped some people off.

              This reminds me of the Smart murder in Boston, where a black man was accused of murdering a white woman (the accuser, her husband, was in fact the murderer), and the police justified their false prosecution of an uninvolved man by claiming that the guy was a criminal who was guilty of something

              What you advocate is not justice, but a primitive sort of retribution that does nothing but mire society in increasing cycles of class violence.

              The just thing to do is to end the interventions! Allow companies to go bankrupt! Stop debasing the currency to pay for government spending! Stop taxing and regulating the shit out of people!

              Not hammer a few more oards into the clapped-together rickety structure the regulators are making out of the economy.

              And, again, I note that you are not talking about the problem of underpaid teachers, but the problem of wealthy hedge fund managers.

              Your envy is so pervasive that it colors everything you write.

              And please, nobody is handwaving the dangers of oligarchy. It is theoretically possible that it happens, just as nothing prevents all the oxygen molecules in a room clustering in one corner leaving me to axphyxiate.

              But, when one looks at society after society that slips into oligarchy, one finds the forced transfer of wealth from the have-nots to the haves. I have never seen a situation where the poor allowed themselves to be made worse off by trading. Of course, you are welcome to point me to some data that falsifies my claim.

            3. this is stupid because it also ignores that a very substantial %age (more than a majority last i checked) of hedge fund managers – go broke. the huge hend fund salaries you see are SUCCESSFUL ones, obviously. the market gets rid of unsuccessful ones, by definition

              hedge fund managers succeeed or fail based on their trading/investing prowess. if it’s so fucking easy, why don’t you try it.

            4. What’s even more interesting is Tony’s focus on ‘talking points bad guys’.

              For instance, why didn’t he ask if a professional basketball player was worth 5 million teachers? Why always wall streeters and corporations and never actors and sports stars?

              1. For instance, why didn’t he ask if a professional basketball player was worth 5 million teachers? Why always wall streeters and corporations and never actors and sports stars?

                +1 googelplex to the googelplex power.

                1. What you need here are some ackermann numbers.

          4. “Which, in the end, is basically envy.”

            Amen.

  47. our system is only mildly progressive.

    Oh, horror!

    And, of course, people like this are baffled as to why “effective” rates are not the same as “nominal” rates.

    Evil plutocrats!

  48. Really interesting to see Dave’s response when put the opposing arguments so cleanly. He says he thinks he’s wrong but doesn’t know why… It’s a beautiful example of the mind rejecting logical argument just because it challenges preconceptions. I’m not sure I ever saw it shown so starkly.

  49. Letterman cracks on Ron Paul in 1988. Guest Sandra Bernhard doesn’t know who he is…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY5BZzOFtt4

    1. I wish I didn’t know who Sandra Bernhard was.

      1. Hm. I love Sandra Bernhard because I think she is really funny. I found this clip because I was looking for one episode where she got really bitchy with Dave, but alas, I couldn’t find it. She didn’t call him an asshole, like Cher did once, but she just got kinda bitchy and didn’t play his game.

  50. I also want to get rid of the massive spending programs otherwise known as unjustified corporate subsidies

    Bribing people to buy Volts? Still okay, in Tonytopia. That’s good to know.

  51. @Tony:

    And surely you agree that the market rewards what society values.

    No, individuals reward other individuals who provide the goods and services that the individual desires. Talking about abstract, non-real simplifications of a much more complex reality like “markets” and “society” doesn’t work well for you, because you have false notions of what is going on and those abstractions prevent you from seeing that it is ALL individual interactions.

    I just disagree that it does so all by itself. Or are hedge fund managers really worth 5 million teachers apiece?

    The crash of some derivatives market and the firing or bankruptcy of many of those hedge fund managers are evidence that assets were being misallocated, and that their non-productivity was eventually revealed.

    No hedge fund manager got paid the compensation of “5 million teachers.” That’s ludicrous hyperbole with no basis in reality. At $100K a pop in annual salary plus benefits, that would be a half a TRILLION dollars in compensation per year. No one — NO ONE — made that kind of money.

    If you read “The Big Short”, however, the protagonist is a hedge fund manager who made a buttload of money by betting against the marketplace and forcing people to cave and end the gross misallocation of assets that was occurring. That person earned all the money he made, because he ended some tremendous waste of resources.

    If you say that it’s government meddling that has caused so grotesque a distortion of our values, then you agree that we need to change government policy to rectify it, right?

    No, I say we need to get rid of monopoly government with a monopoly of force in a geographic area in its entirety. We don’t need government. It can all be privatized, and be replaced in its entirety with private individuals doing a cheaper and better job.

    1. What it gets down to prolefeed is that even though all the evidence clearly favors our side, Tony is married to government. Without it he would have no way to bully people into going along with his demented social engineering schemes. Though I doubt he’ll ever admit it, all of his political goals require coercion, and thus he will obviously latch on to the organization that has institutionalized it.

      1. I know you like to pretend that your political goals, and the type of society you want, don’t require coercion, but just how would that work? My policies at least have the virtue of being acceptable to most people. But how do you get from here to there, and then how do you run a society, without coercion?

        1. how do you run a society, without coercion?

          You don’t run anything. That’s the point. Your fundamental problem is your belief that you somehow can run society, if you only have a big enough government and enough regulation.

          It’s a great system for busybodies like yourself, because it’s guaranteed employment forever – the more regulations distort human interaction, the more regulations are needed!

          It is you, Tony, who likes to pretend that your political goals are anything other than an employment ponzi scheme.

          1. So people and businesses will get along, never engage in fraud or what we now consider crimes, because they’ll be so overflowing with freedom and prosperity they won’t need to? You’re selling a fantasy dude.

        2. “I know you like to pretend that your political goals, and the type of society you want, don’t require coercion, but just how would that work?”

          In a voluntaryist society, all human interaction would be, well, voluntary. Private property would be respected. Individuals would be free to associate or disassociate with whomever they pleased. Disputes would be handled peacefully via private courts. Communities would be protected by private police organizations which would compete for the patronage of customers, improving reliability and reducing costs.

          I’m not saying this society would be perfect. No doubt theft would still exist, as would other atrocities like murder and rape. I’m just saying that the voluntaryist society would produce a higher degree of freedom and a substantially higher standard of living than the statist society which you advocate.

          “My policies at least have the virtue of being acceptable to most people.”

          Clearly. That’s why the Democrats still control the House and a majority of state legislatures, and why Obama’s approval rating is so incredibly high.

          And I don’t really care how popular libertarianism is now. But as your ideology continues to fail to deliver on its promises, more and more people will look to freedom for the answer. Readership of organizations like the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Reason, and CATO have exploded during this administration. On the other hand, The New York Times’ circulation has been falling for years, and Newsweek is just barely fighting off bankruptcy.

          “But how do you get from here to there”

          Once the majority of the population adheres itself to liberty, we will simply choose not to participate in government. We will not vote, or pay taxes, or appear for jury duty. The state will simply cease to exist once we withdraw from it the power society has foolishly seceded to it.

          I can’t tell you if this will ever happen. But I do believe that during my lifetime I’ll see a drastic reduction in the size and scope of government, and a complete realignment of how people believe it should function and what its duties are. Just as my parents saw the death of the command economy, I believe that I will see the death of the welfare economy. Or we’ll just decide to fund all of our welfare programs by printing money, which will destroy the economy through hyperinflation.

          “then how do you run a society, without coercion?”

          No one will ‘run’ anything. See what Apogee said below.

      2. and thus he will obviously latch on to the organization that has institutionalized it.

        I’m quite curious as to the financial extent of Tony’s latching onto government.

        1. I’d place money on Tony being rich because he’s a rent-seeker.

  52. Letterman (and audience): “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts!”

  53. Tony|2.27.11 @ 3:19AM|#
    “Because I think it is.”

    All anyone ever needs to know about the asshole screen-named Tony.
    Because Tony ‘thinks’ so. Beneath contempt.

  54. Re: Tony,

    So people and businesses will get along, never engage in fraud or what we now consider crimes, because they’ll be so overflowing with freedom and prosperity they won’t need to? You’re selling a fantasy dude.

    Surprise! Since people are not perfect, Tony wants all to be slaves!

    “Only government sages can make men virtuous… uh, of course, government sages have to be perfect beings themselves, but if not, the imperfect rubes can be sage enough at least for an important instant to vote them out and place more perfect men in government!”

    The mind of the leftoid.

    1. If your political stance doesn’t take into account the fact that people aren’t perfect, what good is it?

      You can’t escape coercion no matter how small you want government to be, so it would be the intellectually honest thing to admit to it and go from there.

      1. Re: Tony,

        If your political stance doesn’t take into account the fact that people aren’t perfect, what good is it?

        It does take into account people ain’t perfect – there’s no such thing as perfection. You however make the mistake of thinking that non-perfection precludes freedom.

        Does your model take into account people cannot vote in perfect beings to oversee them?

        You can’t escape coercion no matter how small you want government to be

        One can’t escape coercion AT ALL, with government present. I don’t understand your logic – like saying one cannot escape disease therefore we need to live under a disease-ridden monstruosity.

        […]so it would be the intellectually honest thing to admit to it and go from there.

        Sure, go ahead.

        1. Does your model take into account people cannot vote in perfect beings to oversee them?

          Of course. That’s what regular elections, checks and balances, laws, and ethics rules are for.

          One can’t escape coercion AT ALL, with government present. I don’t understand your logic – like saying one cannot escape disease therefore we need to live under a disease-ridden monstruosity.

          You can’t escape coercion in any case. And that’s okay, because coercion isn’t always bad. Just like you believe when you proclaim a right to coerce people from not stealing from you or trespassing on your property.

          1. Re: Tony,

            Of course. That’s what regular elections, checks and balances, laws, and ethics rules are for.

            You seem to lack sophistication, Tony. I don’t see you addressing the biggest contradiction in your model: having IMperfect people vote in seemingly PERFECT people to oversee them. How can the imperfect vote in perfect rulers? And how can imperfect beings do checks and balances on perfect beings?

            You can’t escape coercion in any case.

            I don’t see then the use of government if it’s irrelevant to the existence of coercion.

            And that’s okay, because coercion isn’t always bad. Just like you believe when you proclaim a right to coerce people from not stealing from you or trespassing on your property.

            I cannot coerce someone from stealing my property, I can only coerce them NOT to steal my property, and NO, it is NOT the same thing. A person does not steal because he is coerced into not stealing – unless that person was mentally disturbed or a total sociopath. A person CHOOSES not to steal, whether because he or she feels stealing is wrong or because he or she forsees serious consequences for stealing. If I had to actively coerce people from stealing, it would be only because I was under siege by the whole of humanity, trying to convice through violence each person. Since it is clear I do NOT have to do such a thing, the contention that I have to coerce everybody from stealing my things is nonsense – people ALREADY CHOOSE not to steal.

            Since that does not happen, ever, then it is clear your argument that coercion is ALWAYS necessary is, in fact, incorrect, non factual and pure nonsense.

  55. He could have done a lot better job of defending his position. I think some of our allies get too intimidated when in a room of leftists while on live television.

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